Meg Gill Radically Changes The Sport Of Swimming

Meg Gill Radically Changes The Sport Of Swimming

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

After graduating from Yale University in 2007, Meg Gill dabbled in triathlons and open water swimming as the next evolution of her sprinting abilities where she set several Ivy League records in the pool.

After driving home from a swim in Lake Tahoe in 2009, Gill experienced vertigo and suddenly found herself swerving off the road and plummeting over the side of a mountain. She was airlifted to a hospital and suffered a concussion and memory loss. She made her long recovery worthwhile as she soon set off on a path that revolutionized the sport of amateur swimming in America.

The former Yale swim team captain was interested in craft brewing and co-founded Golden Road Brewing with Paul Burgis in 2011 when she was 24 years old. She sponsored a masters swimming team called Golden Road Aquatics and became a board director of Heal the Bay. Four years later, Golden Road Brewing was acquired by Anheuser-Busch and Gill saw her dream grow with a major partner. She and Burgis explains below:

Along the way, Gill upended the absolute taboo that the swimming market has long held against alcohol. “Even though many adults and coaches in the American swimming community responsibly enjoy beer, wine and spirits, there was an absolute ban – across the board – against any relationship or sponsorship against alcohol companies in the swimming community,” recalls Steven Munatones. “While the sport of triathlon gained a huge influx of financial sponsorship and exposure due to its relationships and sponsorships with beer companies in its early history, the swimming community – both in the pool and open water – had an across-the-board prohibition against anything hinting of beer, wine or spirits.”

Roger Finch after successfully crossing the English Channel in 2011 in 12 hours 39 minutes.

Dial forward many decades until Gill came on the scene. Firstly, she boldly sponsored a masters swim team and then signed a major deal with USA Swimming, the national governing body for the sport of pool and open ater swimming in the U.S. and with U.S. Masters Swimming in 2019.

Suddenly, what had been long prohibited by the American swimming community – over generations – was now accepted: sponsorship and a partnership with an alcohol company. Largely through the vision and skills of Gill, Golden Road Brewing announced a multi-year partnership with the major American swimming governing bodies, the first in history.

According to USA Swimming, Golden Road Brewing serves as the co-presenting sponsor of VIP hospitality experiences at USA Swimming House and USA Swimming Live at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. The brewery also will be visible in the Toyota Aqua Zone and serves as presenting sponsor of the Last Session Show and the Golden Goggles red carpet show. Very creatively, Golden Road will also implement an athlete support program that provides financial support to adult athletes, as well as industry exposure and professional training. It was also featured at the 2019 U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championships in California.

Golden Road is a natural partner for USA Swimming, as the company was co-founded by former USA Swimming National Team member Meg Gill,” USA Swimming Chief Commercial Officer Shana Ferguson said. “Together with Meg’s excellent staff and buoyed by premium products, we are now better equipped to host fans seeking an elevated hospitality experience. This is an exciting time for our sport, both in and out of the pool.”

We’re excited to partner with Golden Road,” U.S. Masters Swimming CEO Dawson Hughes said. “It’s already a familiar name in the Masters Swimming community because of the success of Golden Road Aquatics, one of our high-performing Masters clubs. We’re looking forward to working closely with Golden Road to continue improving our members’ experience at our events.

The USA Swimming partnership grants Golden Road rights to official marks, branding, marketing and promotional opportunities at the Toyota U.S. Open, TYR Pro Swim Series events and Phillips 66 National Championships.

For more information about Golden Road, visit here.

Today on Diary of a Double at 11 am PT / 2:00 pm ET, listen to Munatones interview channel swimmer Antonio Argüelles about his double English Channel training and the changing culture of alcohol in the swimming community. Listen in here on Zoom.

Copyright 2008 – 2021 by World Open Water Swimming Association

Steven Munatones